Wake up! To a year of GOOD DESIGN!!!

Is this the year of the Rooster or the year of the Designer? Maybe it's both! All I know is I've got to be up when the rooster crows to keep up with all the design projects streaming through my in-box these days. And the money! Why, I may have to employ extra help just to count it all! Anyway, while it's really fun (really! it is!) working on cool-i-o stuff, I recognize the process can be a little daunting for those just getting their feet wet in the design world.

So, in keeping with The Communicatrix Goal of offering Useful Tips for Living and other valuable nuggets, here are a handful of tips to get you started on the road to graphic happiness:

1. When you find a new designer via the web, always ask for a detailed estimate. If you don't like it, you can always just ignore it. And don't be intimidated by pressure tactics like them "following up" with a "polite" email. After all, who's the customer, here? That's right, you!

2. Remember, a more complicated job requires more lead time. For example, while a business card should take no more than an hour or two, you should probably allow at least a day's turnaround for your company newsletter. Haste makes waste!

3. If you have ideas, be sure to share them with your designer before he or she starts working. Comments like "I think Comic Sans would be a great typeface to use for the body copy, don't you?" or "I like a heavy drop shadow on my headlines" not only are great thought-starters, they show your designer that you're not some rube who just fell off the design turnip truck!

4. By the same token, if a brain flash hits you at the last minute, by all means, don't hold back! A good designer won't be mad that you're changing everything at the last minute, they'll be thrilled that you care enough to make them look good!

5. Another way to be helpful is to give your designer lots and lots of fun clip art to use. TIP: When it comes to clip art, there's no such thing as too kooky! Don't worry if it looks a little jumble-y; matchy-matchy is out,  eclectic is in!

6. Don't let some hoity-toity graphic "designer" tell you how many typefaces is too many! If God didn't want us have a lot of fonts in our printed material, why would he have put so many on our computers? Stupid designers!

7. To make your newsletter stand out from the pack, try copying it onto colored stock. TIP: Different colors can change the mood completely: for a “serious” look, try mint green; for a fun, fruity look, how about grape? And nothing shouts "I Am Acme Widgets!" like a ream of Astrobrights: hot pink, neon orange, rock'em-sock'em lime, etc.

8. Graphic designers like to throw around big, confusing terms like "white space" and "that colored stock you copied the last newsletter on makes it a little hard to read" just to make themselves feel smart. Don't be fooled by fancy double-talk. If your newsletter was hard to read, your family would have told you!

9. If there's anything you don't like about the design, don't hurt your designer's feelings. Just ask for an "output" and once you get it home, cut, rearrange and paste to your own liking. Then just Xerox and, voila! you're a graphic designer! (TIP: If you copy it at extra light, the cut lines barely show at all.)

10. Finally, don't feel like you have to hire a designer just because other people are doing it. After all, if you own a computer with Microsoft Word and hands, you already have all the tools you need to produce fine graphic "design" in the comfort and privacy of your own home, and save wasted money, too!


xxx c